One of my biggest concerns nearing the end of this pregnancy was Caleb and how he would adjust to having a sibling. I know it's normal, and I know kids become siblings every day, but I wanted the transition to be a smooth one. So we have did a few things to prepare Caleb and make sure he understood what was going on in his world.
The Big Introduction
Babies come on their own terms, so we had a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. We had mapped out who was going to be staying with Caleb at our home (which was really important to me so that his routine wasn't too disrupted), and how the daily routines would function. Since I was induced, we at least ended up knowing which day she would come and we were able to really prepare for that. We wanted to be sure that when Caleb came to meet her, it was just Eddie, Caleb, Chloe and I in the room (and our photographer, of course). It ended up working out where he was the first person to come in from the waiting room to meet her. Once they said visitors could come in, Eddie went to get him from the waiting room and walked in with him. He came in with the gift he had picked out for her and opened it up right away. We let him look at her and touch her feet. He wanted to carry her right away. We also had gifts for him from his sister.
And honestly, it was love at first sight. He was enthralled with her. So much so that he didn't want to leave the room. Our family members rotated in, but Caleb stayed with Chloe and I the whole time. Every single person who walked in, he introduced them to her, "This is my baby sister Chloe!" He went to school the following day armed with a photo of his baby sister and showed it off to everyone at school. I couldn't have hoped for a better reaction.
I can't tell you for sure which of the things we did to prepare Caleb to be a big brother really worked, or if he would have been as sweet with her if we hadn't done any of these things (it's very possible - because he has always been very sweet to babies in general). But I do know we talked a lot about his baby sister and about him being a big helper. And honestly, I think kids just want to be prepared, as much as we do. It's a life-altering event for them, too.
And then there were four.
I hope these help you in preparing your toddler to be a big brother or sister!
I received this product compliments of DockATot.
I get asked all the time how I look like I have it all together so soon after giving birth to Chloe. The truth is, I live and die by the phrase, "Fake it till you make it." Sometimes, I really do feel like I am a zombie - or mombie, if you will. The first couple of weeks I am usually just getting by, scraping together every ounce of will in me to climb out of bed and feel like a functioning, if not productive, human being. This time around especially, I have Caleb to worry about, so "sleep when the baby sleeps" isn't really an option all the time.
I am very lucky in the sense that my body bounces back from pregnancy really quickly. I know that not everyone is so fortunate, but the tips I'm going to give you don't require you to be someone who bounces back quickly. They're simply things that will make you feel like you have some semblance of normalcy while you adjust to your new normal.
The first thing is to figure out what works for you and your baby. While it would be amazing to snuggle all day every day, and you certainly can on days when you feel like it, some days, you just want to feel human again. So figure out what works for your baby. Figure out their calmest hours, figure out what safe place they like to sleep in, and USE IT!
For Chloe, I have figured out that she is calmest in the morning. She eats, sleeps, poops, and falls asleep again once she is comfortable. And where is she comfortable? Right now, she loves her DockATot. The DockATot is a multi-functional lounger and co-sleeper. It's 100% cotton and tested for breathability. I know I can leave her in the DockATot on the bed or on the floor and she is safe and comfortable. And because it envelops them on the sides, it creates a micro climate for them that keeps them even more comfortable.
Once you have figured out what works for you, and what keeps your baby calm and happy, then you can take a little time to take care of yourself!
Sleep When You Can - With Caleb, I used to sleep in after our morning feeding. Once he was a little sturdier, I would put him in bed next to me and we would both sleep really well. Those extra two hours in the morning would help me make up the hours I had lost during nighttime feedings. With Chloe it hasn't exactly worked the same way, but she also gives me longer stretches at night than Caleb did, so my sleep is a little less fractured.
Get Out of Your PJs - You don't have to dress up. But change out of your PJs. If you're anything like me, those postpartum/breastfeeding hormones are doing a number on you. I spend the night sweating. Add to that leaking milk on my PJs, the last thing that makes me feel good is staying in my jammies. Putting on clean clothes, even if it's leggings and a tee, makes me feel a thousand times better.
Shower When You Can - Again, hormones, leaky milk, and postpartum bleeding. A shower always makes me feel like a brand new human, especially when I can wash my hair. On that note...
Do Your Hair - If you normally dye your hair, get it done a couple weeks after delivery. You'll feel like a unicorn mom. When you wash your hair, dry it or style it. For me, that makes it last a couple days longer, and even if I have it picked up in a ponytail, my hair doesn't look messy. Bonus points and extra days without washing if I manage to curl it, too!
Take Care of Your Skin & Slap On a Little Makeup - I'm not saying a full face. But you'd be AMAZED at what some moisturizer and undereye concealer will do for you and how much better it will make you feel.
Get Outside - The four walls of your house can make you feel really lonely. If you're not yet comfortable going places, driving around, etc., at the very least, go for a walk outside. Put the baby in the stroller or carry them in their carrier. The walk will make you feel good because you're stretching your legs. You increase your chances of having human interaction with someone who can speak to you, and the fresh air will do you wonders!
Find Friends Who Get You - Some days, you just need to complain about how tired you are, or how much your nipples hurt. Find friends or other moms in your area who get you. I have found that my child-free friends don't get it when I comment about stuff like that. But any woman who has had a baby in the history of ever will understand what you're feeling - unless they are some kind of freaks and didn't experience it the way the rest of us do.
Utilize Other Caretakers - We are very fortunate that our kids have four living grandparents who live in the same city as us and who basically fight to take care of them (not literally but almost lol). We also have a few other family members who are willing to help out. And we have a babysitter we trust and use as well. Sometimes I leave the kids with Dad and go do what I need to do, and a couple weeks ago, Eddie’s Mom stayed with both the kids while we ran out to enjoy a nice kid-free dinner together.
Don’t Worry About Doing It All - You know all those “super moms” out there that look like they have it all together? Their houses are perfect, they cook dinner every night, so adorable crafts with their kids, and they look perfect themselves? If that’s what works for them, that’s amazing. But don’t let yourself feel bad because you can’t maintain that in your home. Some days I manage to get dinner cooked for everyone, other days we eat leftovers, or sandwiches, or we order out. And the clean laundry typically sits in my bedroom for a week or so before it gets put away. And then it’s time for the next batch of clean laundry. I typically try to empty my sink each night, but sometimes a shower and slee are more important to me that having clean dishes. Do what you can, the rest can wait.
And there you have it. How I manage to maintain some semblance of sanity as a stay at home/work from home mom. What else would you add to this?
Want to try the DockATot for your little one? Follow this link for $10 off your purchase! (Your purchase through this link helps me earn a little something to keep the blog going.)
*This post is not meant to provide medical advice or be a substitute for a medical professional or lactation consultant. These are simply things I have learned after my own breastfeeding experiences.
Breastfeeding. it's supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. I mean our bodies were perfectly created to grow a baby, deliver it safely into the world, and then continue to nourish it with every single thing it needs. However, for one reason or another, breastfeeding doesn't necessarily come naturally. At least not to everyone.
I've written before about my struggles with nursing Caleb, especially at the beginning. I knew from the start of this pregnancy that there were a few things I didn't do correctly the first time around that I needed to correct from day 1 with Chloe. In the post I linked above, I mention how I was determined to make it work, and was able to make it work because of that determination, and in spite of having people doubt me. One of the things I did differently this time was have an in-home consultation with a lactation consultant. She told me, "Breastfeeding is 90% motivation, and only 10% skill." If you truly want to breastfeed, and you are willing to put in the work at first, then you can and you will.
I'm not going to cover everything about breastfeeding in one post - that's impossible. There's so much to know. But I will tell you the most important things to remember in the first few weeks.
Breastfeeding is 90% motivation, and only 10% skill.
So there you have my biggest tips for the beginning of your breastfeeding journey. Experienced mommas, what else would you add? Leave your tips in the comments!
P.S. I get that breastfeeding is not for everyone. This post is not meant to shame those moms who choose to feed their babies formula or expressed milk. A fed baby is a healthy baby. Do what you have to do, ladies! This post is only to tell you that if you truly want to breastfeed, you can!
*This post is not meant to provide medical advice. It is simply a retelling of my own birth story.
First off, my apologies for not having posted recently! The last few weeks of pregnancy were so uncomfortable that I could not sit for extended periods in front of the computer, and the first two weeks of postpartum were full of healing, and sitting in front of the computer was also out of the question then. I did try to work on hubby's laptop, but really, with a baby attached to you basically 24/7, it's nearly impossible.
So let's get right to it. After much anticipation, our little Chloe is finally here! As I mentioned above, the last few weeks of pregnancy were very uncomfortable. Filled with aches and pains, false contractions, and increasing number of Braxton Hicks, and an order from doctors to "take it easy," the last 3-4 weeks were pretty tough. I was fairly certain that Chloe would make her appearance early, around weeks 37-38. But she had other plans. While she was making me very uncomfortable and kicking my ribs every chance she got, she was quite comfy in there.
Each week, when I visited my OB's office, they must have sensed my desperation. At week 39 on the nose, I went in and the doctor offered to do a cervical check. He said if I was dilating and effaced, then we could talk about inducing labor. We had already discussed it and all the doctors I saw agreed that I was a good candidate for it, because I had already had a successful vaginal delivery with Caleb (I was actually helped along during his labor, too). So when my cervical check revealed that I was, in fact, 2 cm dilated and over 70% effaced, the doctor asked if I'd like to be induced. Eddie answered for me and said, "Doc, if you told her to cross the street to the hospital right now, she wouldn't argue with you on it." I agreed, and we set the date for induction two days later, on February 28 (I would have done it the following day, but it was our wedding anniversary, and I wanted Chloe to have her own day). I also knew the possible risk of an induction ending in a c-section, but my doctors seemed confident that that would not be the case, so we went ahead with the decision.
So we took the next day to prepare everything, I finalized all the arrangements for Caleb's care, and since we had been told to be at the hospital before 7, tried to get to sleep early. On the morning of the scheduled induction, they called me at 5:00 am and told us to report to the hospital at 6:30. My dad picked Caleb up to take him to school, so we knew he was taken care of for the day, and we headed to the hospital. With Caleb, I did this whole process while having contractions, so this time it was much less stressful. After completing registration, we were on our way to our delivery room. Please note, after this, my timing is just guesstimates or cross-checking with my text messages and updates I was sending to my friends because I was a little busy!
This is when it started to feel real. I changed into my hospital gown and got in bed. After getting settled in and setting me up with an IV, they gave me a bag of fluids so I would be well-hydrated. After that the doctor came in to discuss the action plan with me and he guessed that we would have a baby around 5:15 pm. He explained that the first part of labor would be the longest, with the least strong contractions. Once I was dilated 5-6 cm, he said it would move quickly. He also promised me that I would only push for five minutes. Yes, you read that correctly. FIVE. I was very excited about that, but highly skeptical.
Once he left, just around 9 am, they started me on Pitocin. Pitocin mimics the oxytocin that your body creates during labor and makes your uterus contract, causing, you guessed it, contractions. At first he started me off really low on the dosage, and went increasing it little by little. He said his goal was to get my body started with as low of a dosage as he could.
Side note: One of the things that we decided after Caleb was born was that Eddie and I would be in the delivery room by ourselves (I mean, there are like 10 hospital staff people in there too, but as far as family goes). However, after capturing birth photos for a great family a few months into this pregnancy, I decided I really wanted some for myself. My friend Cary from Cary Diaz Photography graciously agreed to do these for me. I think she was as on edge as I was in the days leading up to the delivery, but being induced made the day of feel much smoother. You can read her account of the day here. She captured everything I wanted her to, and she did an amazing job of it. What I really wanted captured were the emotions of the day, and I think she did an incredible job doing that!
A little after 11, the contractions started coming on a little stronger. They didn't really have a super distinct pattern, but they were getting more intense. The monitor they had on my belly wasn't telling us how strong the contractions were, so my doctor inserted a monitor that would measure the intensity of the contractions from the inside. At the same time, he broke my water.
At around 11:45, I got my epidural. Just like last time, I felt really faint after getting my epidural, so they had to push epinephrine because my blood pressure dropped so low (I have low blood pressure to begin with - even a very hot bath can make my blood pressure drop so low that I feel faint). The pain subsided after that, but I was still feeling pressure. At this point they also inserted a Foley catheter as well since I couldn't really move around anymore to empty my bladder myself.
Around 2:30 pm, my nurse checked me and said I was at about 7.5 cm. I was feeling really intense pressure, so they gave me this "peanut" to put between my legs. It's like a birthing ball but in the shape of a peanut. You put it between your legs and it's supposed to help open your hips up to help the baby move lower down in your pelvis.
By 4:30, I was feeling really intense pressure, and with every contraction, came the feeling of needing to push. When my nurse checked me, she said I was almost fully dilated, but that she thought I could push through it. She called the doctor in and he agreed with her. So they began preparing the room. By 5:15, everyone was in position and I was dying to push. I felt like I was going to burst with every contraction. After a few more instructions from the doctor and the nurse, I started pushing. I pushed through a contraction, and Eddie told me, "She's almost here. You're doing amazing." Once the contraction subsided, I took a break until I felt the next one coming. I pushed through the next contraction, and her head was out. The doctor told me to take a deep breath and relax for a few seconds. At the next contraction, he had me push again, and out she came, at 5:26 pm (and the doctor was right, I pushed for less than 5 minutes!)!
They immediately put her on my chest and left her there for a few minutes, which is something I didn't really get to experience with Caleb. While this was going on, the doctor was delivering my placenta and there were a million things going on in the room. All I could focus on was my baby.
[Caleb had the umbilical cord wrapped pretty tightly around his neck, and was having a hard time breathing, so I held him for maybe 30 seconds and then they whisked him away. I had been concerned about that with Chloe, but the doctor told us that with second (and subsequent) babies it's not usually an issue because the time they spend in the birth canal is so much shorter that the cord doesn't really become a danger to them.]
While the doctor stitched me up (I was starting to tear in the wrong direction so he had to perform an episiotomy - I had one with Caleb as well), they cleaned her up some and weighed & measured her (7 lbs 4 oz, 18 inches) and gave her her Apgar score (9.9 baby). She cried loudly, and I cried with her. A baby's first cry is one of the most emotionally charged sounds a new mom can hear.
I honestly don't know how I would have made it through either one of my deliveries without Eddie. He has been my rock. He counted for me while I pushed, he held my leg, looked into my eyes, and constantly told me I was doing an incredible job. He made sure my hair was out of my face, and that I was as comfortable as I could be.
Once they cleaned Chloe up, Eddie got to hold her for a few minutes while they finished cleaning me up. Then they gave her back to me and I lated her on to my breast. This was something I really wanted to be able to do, since I hadn't been able to do so with Caleb, and I feel like that hurt the start of our breastfeeding journey. She latched on right away, which made me so happy.
A few minutes later, Eddie went to get Caleb so he could meet his baby sister. It was love at first sight - I'll talk more about how we prepared him in another post. He brought her a present, and she had a gift for him. He wanted to hold her and hug her right away. Honestly, as a Mom, this made me happier than anything. Because it was the moment we became a family of four. (And now I'm crying again.)
The grandparents and my brothers each popped in for a few minutes, and about an hour after she was born, they took her off to the nursery to give her a bath and prepare her for her first night with Mom & Dad.
And that's the story of our baby girl's birth.
At 38 weeks pregnant, I know that I can go into labor at any time (and I'm actually hoping for it to be sooner rather than later). For my labor and delivery with Caleb, I completely overpacked my hospital bag, which I wrote about here. I decided to rewrite my list and give it it's own new post, since I'm so much wiser this time around (that was a joke - I still have no idea what I'm doing). The list is pretty self-explanatory, but I will say that our hospital provided me with a LOT of things that I had packed the first time around and I ended up not needing. The hospital did provide toiletries and necessities, but I did enjoy having some luxe products with me that made my hospital stay just a little more pleasant (I bought travel sizes of salon products and some of my skincare products to keep in my bag).
Some of the things I've included are completely based on personal preference and are completely optional (hair dryer and iron anyone?). But I did like to have the option of fixing myself up just a little bit and having some makeup on made me feel human for visitors. I liked having my own bath towel because hospital towels tend to be a little rough, and my own pillow, along with a bright pillowcase, just so I have some of the comforts of home.
I didn't include this on the list but I do have a few snacks packed and an empty water bottle that will make drinking water while lying in a hospital bed a little easier.
I don't pack reading material with me because [I'm not delusional] I know I will be plenty busy and/or catching up on some much needed shut-eye.
Anyway, here's the list! What would you add or remove?
Since I had Caleb a little over 3 years ago, there have been a slew of new baby products that have come on the market. I swore I wasn't going to go crazy with my next baby and get too many new products, but there were some things that I decided were worth trying out. These are the five products I'm most excited to use when baby Chloe arrives in a few weeks!
I had four strollers by the time Caleb turned two. There was always a reason for another stroller and a specific use for each one. A couple months back, I entered a raffle for a Doona Car Seat. I, who happen to have the worst luck in the world for things like that, ended up winning the Doona in the raffle. The Doona is an infant seat that has wheels and converts into a stroller. This eliminates the need for adapters, going to your trunk, and two pieces of equipment. It really simplifies what is a huge necessity in the first few months of baby’s life, and cuts out the need of having four different strollers. I'm most excited about how easy this will make it to load both kids into the car, and to walk Caleb to class in the morning without having to move baby around too much!
*I received this product compliments of DockATot
The DockATot is one of those items that I had seen all over social media and that is recommended in basically every mommy group I am in. It's a multi-functional lounger and co-sleeper. When Caleb was first born, he slept with us quite a bit, especially in those early breastfeeding days, and I always wished we had a barrier for him so that he was safe and sound in between us. The DockATot comes in two sizes, the Deluxe for babies 0-8 months, and the Grand for 9-36 months. It's tested for breathability, and is all natural and made of 100% cotton. And how gorgeous is this floral print?
*I received this product compliments of Binxy Baby
Oh, how many times I took Caleb to the grocery store and wondered how the heck I was going to manage with him and the infant seat and all the groceries. The Binxy Baby solves this! It's a shopping cart hammock that can be used for babies until they are big enough to sit in the seat on their own. And when they're too little to go in the hammock, it can hold your infant seat - this leaves you the whole shopping cart basket to put your groceries or products, so you can resume your Target runs without worrying that you can't buy everything you need (or that you don't need but ends up in your cart anyway)!
LP Originals Milestone Blanket
Lauren, the sweetheart behind LP Originals, is a Miami native and she started her business a few years ago making custom pieces for all kinds of events. She is an illustrator and creates gorgeous items. One of my favorite items on her site are the baby milestone blankets. She has such beautiful designs. I added this to my registry and I got lucky that someone gifted it to me. As a matter of fact, I loved it so much, that hubby and I got one as a gift for our new baby nephew. It is the softest blanket, and I can't wait to capture her monthly milestones on this gorgeous blanket!
Artifact Uprising Baby Book
Confession: I never did a baby book with Caleb. I thought I would create albums via one site or another, and I never did. The last book I printed was of my maternity photos and baby shower (when I was pregnant with Caleb). I've done a few vacation ones, but never took the time to document Caleb's milestones and special moments. I knew I wanted to do that differently this time around, but I also wanted to be able to complete a baby book for Caleb! Enter Artifact Uprising. They have some gorgeous, classic products. And their baby book is no exception. It's very simple, and it contains prompts for you to fill in as baby grows. I ended up ordering Caleb's book after receiving one for Chloe as a gift, and I've already begun filling it in. My goal is to finish as much of it as possible before baby sister shows up!
So there you have it! The things I'm most excited to use as a second time Mom!
January has been a busy month, and while February looks to be a bit slower, it is definitely going to be month filled with anticipation. With baby girl due in the very first week of March, I know I want everything to be ready in the next couple of weeks just in case she decides to make an early appearance (which I am 100% okay with). I'm hoping to take it easy over the course of the next few weeks, but I'm also hoping this means I can get some really great posts and content out for you! In any case, here's the January List!
There you have it folks!
I'd love to hear what some of your list items are! Share them in the comments below!
So there are a lot of things I haven't been really great about this pregnancy, and eating super well has not been one of them. With both of my pregnancies, my first trimester has been all about the carbs. Second trimesters I've been pretty balanced. But this third trimester I have been feeling pretty exhausted (read: lazy). I would definitely say that I have been lacking in the department of a well-balanced diet - thank goodness for vitamins!
But a couple of months ago, local Miami chef and author Lauren Arboleda of Food from the Heart sent me a copy of her book Pregnancy from the Heart. Her book is really great because it talks about how to keep yourself healthy during pregnancy, along with tips for staying active, and preparing for baby's arrival.
Last week, I was feeling a little yucky with some of the food choices I had been making, and I was really craving an açaí bowl. So I opened up the book to a page I had bookmarked, with the recipe for homemade granola and an açaí bowl. While I didn't have all the ingredients for the granola, I mixed together a few of the ingredients I DID have, and then made the açaí bowl. It was exactly what I needed - it was filling, and it made me feel like I was at least getting some veggies and lots of vitamins and antioxidants in! Read below for the recipe, along with what else I've been loving from this book!
recipe can be found on page 121
1 frozen package of açaí (no sugar added) [Trader Joes has, I also found at Publix]
1/2 cup pineapple
4 cups kale (I actually subbed for spinach because I didn't have kale)
I also added a tablespoon of peanut butter since this was my lunch and I wanted to add a little more protein.
1. Add everything to the blender and blend until smooth.
2. Pour in a bowl and sprinkle granola on top.
3. Add anything else you would like - I added fresh strawberries and drizzled with a little local Orange Blossom Honey that we picked up at the farmers market a few weeks ago.
Something else that is different from my pregnancy with Caleb - with Caleb, I made the time to go to prenatal yoga at least once a week during all of my second and most of my third trimester. This time, I never got around to it. But, Lauren has included a section in her book that has all the yoga poses you will need to help with all the typical pregnancy ailments. So I have actually been doing some of these yoga poses to help alleviate heartburn and back pain!
I've also jumped around the book checking my list with hers for how to prep for baby's arrival and what to pack for the hospital.
It's a beautifully illustrated book, and a great resource for a healthy, holistic pregnancy. I think it would make a beautiful gift for anyone you know who has recently announced their pregnancy, or even as a gift for yourself! You can buy it by following this link, or on Amazon, or at Books & Books in Coral Gables (my favorite bookstore ever and actually where I held Caleb's baby shower!).
Keep it cool, mamas!
As a mom, I am always questioning myself. Am I doing this right? How can I be better? I wish I had more patience. Motherhood is a constant finding of oneself. It’s the feeling of wanting to be needed, but also needing time to yourself. It’s all these little contradictions. It’s hard as hell, but it’s worth all its difficulties.
Recently, I was chatting with a friend who is also expecting, but this is her first. She asked me tons of questions about labor, and she confessed to me that she was petrified of labor.
It brought me back to my pregnancy with Caleb. I don’t remember being scared of labor itself, just apprehensive about all the unknowns. When you’re used to being in control of just about everything, something that brings so many unknowns, like labor, can be a little scary.
But whenever the conversation came up, and people asked me how come I wasn’t scared, I would always respond with, “Because my body was made to do this. I was born to be a mother.” The fact that millions of women have been doing this, since the beginning of time, with way less knowledge and way fewer medical advancements, was always a huge comfort to me. I always used the image of Mary, and said, if she could give birth in a stable, surrounded by animals on a bed of hay, then I can certainly do this in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors.
This time around, I am way less apprehensive about the process itself. My body has already done this once. It can certainly do it again. But like always, those little fears creep in. Should I be induced? What if I forget how to push? What if the pain is too much to bear? What if I don’t make it to the hospital in time?
But every time those fears creep in, I remind myself, I was BORN TO DO THIS.
You can find this tee at Therapy For Moms Shoppe. Therapy for Moms started out as an Instagram account that was meant to just help moms get through the days. Their latest venture has been a shop with products created by moms, for moms. They have some great pieces to help remind you of the journey you are on - some funny and some uplifting. Lisette, the founder, reached out to me a few months back and sent me this tee, asking me to share my story. I thought this was a great reminder of how we as moms can forget that we are made to do exactly what we are doing, and that as much as we doubt ourselves, a mother's instinct kicks in.
So don't doubt yourself, momma. Because you were born to do this.
Want one of these tees for yourself? Visit Therapy for Moms Shoppe and get 20% off your order when you use the code JENISE20. It will get you 20% off your entire purchase, excluding $5 Deals and Therapy Boxes. Coupon expires 2/2/18.
Yesterday, I posted in my Instagram stories about an activity I did with Caleb after school one day. He had received this big cardboard rocket ship for Christmas, and it was meant to be painted. I had been putting it off because I knew that I needed to make this an outdoor activity and that it would certainly require some cleanup. And while I know my kid is excessively messy and loves to smear stuff all over himself, I'm still a little shocked at the reactions that people sent me when it came to my stories. "OMG. I'm dying for you." "Ugh, what a mess." "I don't know how you deal with that." "Ummm, that's my worst nightmare."
On Tuesday, I picked him up from school and he was in some kind of mood. I let him be for a little bit and after a few minutes of silence, I asked him if he wanted to paint his rocket ship this afternoon. He yelled, "NO!" loudly and shook his head. I let him be again, and after about two minutes, he said, really softly, "Mommy, I want paint my rocket. You paint with me?" Of course, I had suggested it, so I wasn't about to say no.
The rest of the way home, he was way more low key and mentioned painting a few more times. By the time we reached home, he was ready to go. He wanted to paint right this minute. I knew this was something I needed to do a little bit of prep for, so I kept giving him tasks he had to complete before we could go out and paint. I had him change out of his uniform and into play clothes, I gave him a snack and some water, and made him use the potty. He was clearly annoyed with me. But I knew once we were outside painting, I wasn't letting him back in until he was completely done.
While he did all of that, I prepped the paint, and pulled out his smock and some of his paintbrushes. (One small tip - keep all of this stuff together in a basket or bin so when you need it, it's all in the same place and you don't have to hunt stuff down; also, use disposable plates and cups to hold the paint so cleanup is just throwing those things out). We took everything outside and went to town on that rocket ship.
For the first few minutes, he worked really quietly. I watched, I took a few photos, and I relished in the fact that I had managed to bait and switch him into a good mood. He was completely concentrated on what he was doing. Then he turned to me and asked me, "Mommy, can you paint with me?" How could I say no to that? So of course, I joined him. We painted in silence together, no distractions, no arguments, me not bossing him around. And he looked over at me, often, to make sure I was still "on task." I painted with him for over twenty minutes, and guys, let me tell you, I will cherish those twenty minutes of doing something with my son for a very long time.
After twenty minutes, I sat back down, because, well, pregnancy. I let him keep doing his thing. I watched and I talked to him and asked him questions. And then all of a sudden, he was smearing paint all over his smock. Then in his hair, and all over his face. But I didn't tell him to stop.
You see, kids don't have this same sense of order that we do. They also explore in lots of different ways. Caleb likes to feel things. He has, on numerous occasions, smeared himself with paint, yogurt, hummus, and a few other food items. I know that my kid is prone to doing this. So I'm proactive about it. Instead of flipping out because ohmygodhesmakingamess, I make sure I sit him in his high chair, or we take the paint outside. He doesn't feel like he's being stifled, and I'm not really freaking out because it's a controlled mess. Also, having been a special education teacher for many years, and working with a number of kids on the Autism spectrum who suffered from sensory issues, it always warms my heart a little to see that my son has no sensory issues.
But really, at the end of it all, we killed well over an hour of time, we spent quality time together (I consciously only took a few photos with my phone), and he had a chance to do some sensory activities, which is never a bad thing. I'd certainly consider that a win in my book.
And afterwards? There was nothing a little bath time couldn't fix. ;)
So let your kids make the messes. As a matter of fact, make the mess with them. I promise, it's not a moment you will soon forget. And at the very least, you'll get some fun pictures and amazing memories out of it.
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.